Israel is a Place for Everyone (#israeluncovered Bus 3)

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Nathan Novaria is a junior at the University of Michigan double majoring in Organizational Studies and Communications.  On campus, he is a representative on the student assembly for the school of Literature, Science, and the Arts in Central Student Government, a Tenor II in the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club, and the current Vice President of Programming for the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.

Since my acceptance to the University of Michigan, I have been wholeheartedly dedicated to all things maize n’ blue. At admitted students day, I can vividly recall sitting in the second floor union ballroom listening to the head of the admissions department use phrases such as “Leaders and Best” in describing what being a Michigan Wolverine represents. I was excited about the years that lay ahead and all of the opportunities I would have at this amazing university. While I myself have extreme pride for Michigan, over the course of my time here I have struggled to understand what leadership truly means and in what ways I personally am a leader.  While I am involved in a variety of student organizations, I have had difficulty identifying what I am truly passionate about.  Israel changed that for me, and here is how.

When I was accepted to The David Project's Israel Uncovered trip in October, my friend who had nominated me said that the experience would forever change my life. Sure, I knew it was going to be an incredible opportunity, but as a non-Jewish student I did not think it would have significantly impacted me in the way that it has. For the longest time, I loathed sharing my personal story. But something about the group of students and The David Project staff I was with made me feel at home over the course of this week and a half trip. So, I shared my coming out experience.

I came out as homosexual during my senior year of high school after experiencing the death of a long-term family friend of mine. I discovered that life is far too short, and I owed it to myself to be honest to my friends and family. However, I felt that this component of myself would inhibit my abilities to partake in certain opportunities when I came to Michigan. I held it close to my heart in order to ensure that I was able to have a truly valuable college experience and not miss out on opportunities.

I felt that people would judge me and not see the important qualities I try to represent as a person. I set off on my journey and searched to find the place where I belonged at the University. I joined Greek Life as a brother of Beta Theta Pi, became a representative on Central Student Government, and was accepted as a Tenor II in the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club. However, I still felt like something was not right. What was holding me back from truly feeling as if I was accepted into each of these communities?

After spending ten days with 35 other campus leaders from around the country, I have realized the importance in being open about my sexuality. By no means has it prevented my ability to truly experience college, and in order to change a society that sees sexuality as one sided, I need to provide a voice and show the world that homosexuality comes in all types of forms. Being open and honest about who you are as a person is what makes you feel at a peace and comfortable in any environment.  To The David Project, my 35 newest friends, the campus coordinators, and to every person that I was able to meet through this experience, I truly thank you for enabling me to realize the importance of sharing stories.  Israel is a place for everyone, and it will forever have a piece of my heart knowing that it helped me in continuing on my journey through life.  For now this may be goodbye, but Israel has not seen the last of me, I promise. L’chaim.